All Aboard all about helping FEC move more freight

Palm Beach Post recently ran an article “Miami’s port bets big on Panama Canal expansion”.

It was a good overview of the opportunities presented to East Coast ports resulting from the Panama Canal’s expansion. When the canal first announced their intention several years ago, it got the attention of all the ports along the East Coast.

Most ports can’t accommodate the megaships that the canal expansion envisions. Port of Miami was one of those. However, they were one of the first to not only plan on how to accommodate these ships, but also how to finance the needed infrastructure. They are the leader of the Florida ports.

One short sentence in the middle of the article piqued my interest: “As part of its (Port-Miami) three-pronged strategy to boast cargo … a rail link to the FEC rail yard … has been added.” You don’t read much about this except in industry publications. The journal Progressive Railroading had an article in April 2013 on the canal expansion and railroads. It stated: “Among railroads anticipating a bump in intermodal traffic (large containers) … , Florida East Coast Railway … FEC is working with Port-Miami and Port Everglades to build on-dock facilities … FEC execs view a big part of the railway’s strategy to grow intermodal traffic.” Quoted in the article, FEC President and CEO James Hertwig said, “We’re prepared to handle the cargo and we’ve got plenty of capacity.”

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There was also a great comment by Julian

I think it would be justice if that train loan of containers did not come up the railroad but instead came up I-95. So much more appropriate for those who hate rail transport of either people or freight. Can you not see it: Hundreds, nay thousands of diesel powered eighteen wheelers doing 70 mph every day, all day long, all night long, clogging all lanes of the main artery through Martin County. Tons of pollution, noise, smog, hammering the asphalt into pieces in a matter of months.

Barreling through Palm City, the locus of all opposition to rail transport.

It is a good thing Henry Flagler is not alive and in charge. He had little toleration for those who could not think clearly. He would likely shut the railroad down for a month, say January, and put everything on a truck thru Martin County so those who could not think clearly could feel the pain.

Are the people of Martin County so in love with SUVs and diesel trucks? Or do they think they can pass a law against people or goods traveling?? This is still a free country and you can oppose efficient transportation, clean transportation and insist on the freeway solution to everything, but you should really stay in Los Angeles awhile if that is the future you want for our county.

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Abandoned House, Abandoned Cow

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Those who have been following me may remember I have posted a series  on “Abandoned”.

Just yesterday, I revisited the place where there were abandoned houses and abandoned cows.

I took some pictures which I have not been able to take in my last visit – mainly because of accessibility and adverse lighting.

Here are the photos taken at a place known as “Chickens Under a Tree:, near to the border with Mainland, China.CIMG5630

The plants and vines have grown so much up on the roof, overwhelming the whole building.

Readers maybe surprised why this house is abandoned even though it looked quite new.

I wish I knew – the people once resided there has abandoned farming as local vegetables no longer have a market and they may even have emigrated.

You can see that vines have climbed up the gate on ground level too.CIMG5632

The second picture was taken…

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Strategic planning: Why Florida East Coast Railways has new facility, locomotives

Florida East Coast Railroad has been in the news recently.

First, its on-site intermodal transfer facility at PortMiami opened, where cargo can be moved from ships directly to rail so it can begin its trip to its destination immediately.

Soon after, it was announced that two state-of-the-art locomotives designed by GE were on their way to Jacksonville to join FECR’s fleet, and another 22 would arrive in January.

The announcements are all part of a plan from FECR to strategically expand and grow its business, said Fran Chinnici, the company’s senior vice president for engineering, mechanical and purchasing. The end game: decongest Florida highways by shipping less freight on trucks and more by rail.

“There’s a lot of business we can win,” Chinnici said. “We actually have better service door to door than trucking in Florida; not many railroads can say that.”

He said when something is shipped between Jacksonville and Miami there are often not many goods coming back, so trucks “deadhead” back, or drive up empty, which isn’t cost-effective. Even if a locomotive is sent back to Jacksonville empty, it’s more cost effective than if a truck was, Chinnici said.

With the opening of the intermodal facility in South Florida, a shift to intermodal shipping and the Panama Canal expansion, Chinnici said FECR is preparing for more business.

Because of that, the company has been planning to upgrade its locomotives for about a year, and decided to invest in 24 new GE units.

“The big driver is fuel, efficiency, and environmental regulations,” he said.

The new locomotives are about 8 to 10 percent more efficient than the current ones, Chinnici said. On a tier system for clean emissions, the current trains ranks a less than one. The new ones are above a three, and Tier Four has not been released yet. The new locomotives will also have the option to convert to liquified natural gas later one, which is even cleaner and safer, Chinnici said.

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Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Admits He Tried To Sideline Lyft’s Funding

The battle between ride-sharing apps Uber and Lyft has been brutal and very public, with claims that Uber was having its employees call and cancel Lyft rides to tie up the drivers and a leaked plan that laid out how Uber was sending ambassadors to poach Lyft drivers.

Apparently, however, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick took it even further than that.

In a recent Vanity Fair profile, Kalanick admitted that he went to potential investors to thwart Lyft’s fundraising efforts.

“We knew that Lyft was going to raise a ton of money,” Kalanick told Swisher. “And we are going [to their investors], ‘Just so you know, we’re going to be fund-raising after this, so before you decide whether you want to invest in them, just make sure you know that we are going to be fundraising immediately after.'”

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering the questionable business tactics Uber has reportedly taken on recently. But the comment reveals another layer of how far Kalanick is willing to go to succeed and sideline its rivals.

Kalanick admits that he can sometimes take things too far.

“Look, I’m a passionate entrepreneur,” he told Swisher. “I’m like fire and brimstone sometimes. And so there are times when I’ll go–I’ll get too into the weeds and too into the debate, because I’m so passionate about it.”

But others don’t view this approach so positively. Take this venture capitalist’s description of Kalanick: “It’s douche as a tactic, not a strategy.”

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The organisers of a Facebook page which informs users if controllers are on board buses and trams

Facebook alert – The organisers of a Facebook page which informs users if controllers are on board buses and trams on the Ligne d’Azur network have denied that it’s been set up to help people dodge fares. 1800 people have signed up to the group which offers information in real time. The page  which is called ‘solidarite aux sans ticket’ warns that it has not been set up to help people evade fares but to simply give them information which will persuade them to buy a 1 euro 50 ticket instead of risking a fine of between 32 and 86 euros. 

With 25 systems in 12 countries, Veolia Transdev’s light rail experts have plenty to share: from large scale line extensions to preventing fare evasion and conducting passenger safety campaigns. Our “” knowledge management process facilitates and strengthens the sharing of best practices and the continual enhancement of our multi-country know-how to the benefit of our local contracts.

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26-year-old successfully crowd funds to pay for her $362 Halloween Uber ride

A woman named Gabby woke up on her 26th birthday and discovered the 20-minute Uber ride she took the night before, on Halloween, had cost her over $360, leaving her unable to pay her rent, she says.

She posted a plea on the crowdfunding site “GoFund.Me” desperately asking for help. It worked. She raised $512 in 12 hours.

Last night was Halloween. Great time. Today is my 26th birthday. Not so great time. I live in Baltimore and went out with my friends to celebrate my birthday at midnight. When 3 AM rolled around, I suggested we take an Uber home to avoid drunk driving (#responsibility/#MADD). I live 22 minutes, tops, from the party I was leaving.

When I awoke this morning, I heard a friend talking about how outrageous Uber rates were the night before (9x original rate). I checked my bank account to, unbeknownst to me, I see a charge for $362. Not only is it my 26th birthday, it is rent day. My rent is $450 and I can no longer pay it today due to this completely outrageous charge.

I have had little to no luck in disputing this transaction.

I waitress at two restaurants and freelance for a City Paper. I worked incredibly hard this week to be able to enjoy my birthday this weekend. This misunderstanding has cost me 80% of the funds I have to my name (embarrassingly so) and I spent a good two hours of my birthday crying over it.

I feel taken advantage of and cheated by the Uber name. $367 for a 20 minute ride should never be justified, even on Halloween. Please donate even just $1 if you think this is utter and complete bull—- and also hilarious and very, very depressing at the same time.

Thanks for the ride, Muhammed.

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Comets’ O’Reilly Passes The Puck and Does It Well

By John Pitarresi

Cal O’Reilly passes the puck.

That’s what he does.

Ask him if he’d rather score a goal or pick up an assist, and he barely hesitates.

“Yeah,” said the Utica Comets center and captain. “I like setting up my teammates.”

And he does it better than most.

O’Reilly played a huge role in rescuing the Comets last season, joining the team 15 games into the campaign and helping spur a stirring second-half drive that nearly resulted in an American Hockey League’s Calder Cup playoff berth after a miserable 0-8-1-1 start. He scored seven goals in 52 games. But, more importantly, he had 38 assists, creating opportunities for his teammates time and again.

“He’s a good hockey player, and he has good hockey sense,” said Comets coach Travis Green, who relies on O’Reilly as a power play quarterback and penalty-killing ace. “He has a good understanding of how to create offense.”

That he does. O’Reilly is not a big guy – 6-feet tall, and 188 pounds, or so the roster says – but he has an abundance of finesse. He knows every trick in the book, and understands pacing, spacing, movement, tendencies and a lot of other things, and he possesses the puck more than most. He had two assists in the Comets’ 4-3 overtime loss to Binghamton on Friday and two more in Saturday’s nail-biting 5-4 win at Adirondack. He has 12 in 10 games, best the AHL.

Like a basketball point guard, O’Reilly often seems to think a couple of plays ahead. Many of his scoring passes are eye-popping, while others might look pedestrian but are just as meaningful. One assist Friday led to Henrik Tommernes’ tying goal midway through the third period. O’Reilly got things started with a pass to Ronalds Kenins. It was the “pass before the pass” – seemingly ordinary, but it made a difference. It looked as if he knew Kenins would easily find the hot-shooting Tommernes across the ice, high on the left side, which is exactly what happened once Kenins drew attention to himself.

Where does that come from?

“Ever since I started playing, I was always looking to pass,” O’Reilly said. “Probably too much. Growing up, I watched Gretzky, Oates, Modano.”

The incomparable Wayne Gretzky had 1,963 assists in his career – about 700 more than anyone else. Adam Oates had 1,079. Mike Modano had 813. O’Reilly had 81 in one season in his last year in juniors with the Windsor Spitfires, and 166 in a three-season span with the Milwaukee Admirals in the AHL, including 63 in 2007-08.

O’Reilly, 28, whose younger brother Ryan is a center with the Colorado Avalanche, was a fifth-round draft choice of the Nashville Predators in 2005. He has 113 National Hockey League games under his belt, mostly with the Predators, but he’s done the bulk of his work in the AHL, scoring 65 goals and collecting 258 assists in 350 games. He has 303 assists including 113 games in the NHL and 46 in Kontinental Hockey League.

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With help from Penney Vanderbilt